For some people, Easter is merely a long weekend. Schools, on the other hand, usually plan a week-long break for the children. For still others Easter observance spans for several weeks with specific parts including Lent, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Pentecost. Devoted Christians view Easter as one part of a life-long faith walk.
Not everyone who attends church is a Christian and many who are Christian do not attend organized religious services.
Reginald Bibby, who is known for research he did through the University of Lethbridge wrote a book entitled "Fragmented Gods" in which he describes his three-decade study of Canadians' beliefs. In it, he states that Canadians have changed their routines and practices from those of past generations. Instead of attending church services on a weekly basis like our ancestors, we now tend to participate in spiritual activities a la cart according to our needs for things like weddings and funerals. Bibby found that people often name the denomination of their grandparents as being their own even if they are not members or active in the denomination.
Canada is classed as a pagan nation but that doesn't mean, however, that Canadians don't believe in God or reach out for spiritual answers, especially during tough times.
There are several things that Christians believe which form a foundation for their lives:
1. God has a history - From the beginning of time, God made the earth and everything that is in it. They challenge those purporting the "big bang" theory by simply stating that God lit the fuse that created the bang. The Bible, which is a book written by dozens of authors, offers Christians principles, strategies for life and narrative regarding the lives of other Christians.
2. God is everywhere, all the time - Christians are never alone. They don't just believe this on a few days of the year but have faith that they are never really alone. They argue that although God is bigger than all their problems, He is a gentleman. He doesn't cause evil but walks through it as a best friend, always offering comfort, maturity and good lessons for those who are observant.
3. God promises a future that is eternal. Christians do not believe that heaven is earned by good works but is given as an invitation to those who believe.
Sometimes clients book an appointment with a therapist because they are trying to figure out the answers to big spiritual questions like "What is my purpose?" or "Why do bad things happen to children?" Some reject the idea of their being a God but need human support from someone who has expertise as a problem-solver. Many have trouble understanding how spiritual things fit together at a personal level and still others come asking how they can deal with others.
No matter what their spiritual perspective, everyone single client wants hope. Hope that things will improve. Hope that their pain will stop and they can enjoy peace. Hope for the future.
I am frequently asked "Is there hope for me?' and I reply that I wouldn't be in this business if I didn't believe that things can change.
The sad thing for those who do not have any faith is that it means two things: One is that they have to be their own God and brings a lot of pressure with it. Secondly, their life is time-limited. When it's over, it is over!
No matter what you believe, I hope that the upcoming Easter weekend will be a calm and thoughtful one for you.
Happy Easter, everyone!